September 28, 2012 - 14:07 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Two of Italy's biggest unions marched through Rome on Friday, Sept 28, to protest against Prime Minister Mario Monti's cuts in public spending as opposition grows to austerity policies aimed at steering the country out of its economic crisis, Reuters reports.
The strike followed clashes between anti-austerity protesters and police in Madrid and Athens this week and coincided with labor unrest at the ILVA steel plant in southern Italy
Monti's coalition passed spending cuts in August that included a modest downsizing of the public sector, where wages have already been frozen for more than two years, and cuts to state healthcare funding.
University professors, public administration employees and health workers in the CGIL and UIL unions were to stop work in support of the march to the Colosseum. Garbage collectors were also joining the work stoppage. . Austerity measures have hurt household spending and deepened Italy's recession. Italian unemployment rose to 10.7 percent in July, the highest since 2004.
Since August, anger over austerity and job losses has led to a growing number of industrial disputes, including at the ILVA steel mill in Taranto and at an aluminium smelter in Sardinia.
Although Monti is the most popular political figure in Italy, his comments on Thursday that he would be willing to serve again if no clear leader emerged from elections next spring prompted a chorus of complaints from opposition parties.